Sunday, November 22, 2009

11/22/09 James 1:2-15 Thanksgivng in trials

(Gold being refined)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

11/22- James 1:2-15

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; 8 they are double-minded and unstable in all they do. 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. 12 Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each of you is tempted when you are dragged away by your own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Calvin abridged: We are exhorted to bear trials with a cheerful mind. The Jews were miserable and despised, and the early Christians were even more despised among the Jews. But this passage of comfort was not just for this one time, but it is always useful to believers, who continually struggle on earth. “temptation or trials” includes anything that goes against us that tests our obedience to God. He bids the faithful when they are facing these to rejoice; The Lord afflicts us in various ways because different temptations are cured by different medicines. When he asks us to “count it all joy” it is as though he had said the benefits coming from temptation are so great that these temptations should be regarded as occasions of joy. There is nothing in afflictions which ought to disturb our joy. We may ask why is he calling that which is bitter now “sweet?” This is because the effect of facing such things brings us patience. I Peter says that the trial of our faith is more precious than gold. Paul says in Romans 5:3 that we are to glory in our tribulations. Afflictions themselves do not make us better, but the providence of God through which the afflictions come, that the faithful learn patience from troubles; for the ungodly are provoked to madness by troubles (as the Pharaoh of the plagues proves). Real patience endures to the end. There are some who show great promise at first, but do not last. Here he encourages us to persevere to the end.

Thoughts: Trials, troubles, temptations are all part of the crosses we bear in this life. We must take up our crosses and follow Him. When we do, we find we die to ourselves more and live to Christ more. Trials are the furnace in which we are purified and come forth as refined silver and gold. Even Jesus was tempted as we are. He withstood the powerful force and lure of temptation and that shows us that this is possible. It is perhaps impossible for a hungry cat not to eat when food is set before it. But a hungry human can say no. Faith helps us to resist giving into our appetites all the time, out or love for God and neighbor. On this Sunday before Thanskgiving, I am thankful that even though life is not perfect, it can still be meaningful and hopeful- in faith. Paul was able to sing in prison in Philippi, and that prison became a church where the jailer was baptized. Today you can go to Philippi and see the prison Paul sang in. It is possible to be thankful in al circumstances- even the trials and troubles of life.

Prayer: When we are weak, Lord- facing our troubles and trials- then you are strong. Thank you for the thorns and rocks along our path. Help us to be strong in you.

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